GARDAI are investigating a suspected arson attack which destroyed more than a dozen coaches in a blaze at a bus yard yesterday.
Some 15 buses were engulfed in flames at the Dualway Group's premises at Keating's Park in Rathcoole, Dublin, at 5am.
It is understood the fire may have been started deliberately.
Five units of the Dublin Fire Brigade -- from Dun Laoghaire, Tallaght, Rathfarnham and Dolphin's Barn -- rushed to the scene and firefighters fought the blaze for almost five hours.
Millions of euro worth of damage to the bus fleet and premises was caused in the suspicious blaze, but more than 40 other vehicles were saved.
Dualway operates sightseeing tours of Dublin and Kilkenny, and Gray Line Tours of Ireland. The company also operates local bus services in west Dublin, including school bus services, and provides corporate and group transport services.
A spokesman for Dublin Fire Brigade said that a shed and 15 coaches were "gutted".
"Five units were mobilised at 5.30am," he said. "The fire was in a shed containing 12 coaches and there were three coaches outside, which were also destroyed. The last appliance closed at 10.30am and everything is pretty much gutted."
Gardai spent much of yesterday completing a technical examination of the scene and last night appealed to anyone with information to contact Rathcoole garda station at 01 6667900.
"The scene was damaged to a reasonable extent," the garda press office said. "The scene is self-contained and is quite isolated. A full investigation will be carried out, and the scene is being technically examined."
A spokeswoman for the company said the buses in its fleet were worth between €30,000 and €250,000 each, but the exact cost or extent of the damage is not yet known.
Dualway has operated for more than 30 years and employs 90 people. Last night, the group said there would be no disruption to services this week.
"All operations will continue as normal," the company said in a statement.
Sources said there were signs of a break-in at the yard and it appeared that two specific vehicles were targeted before the fire spread to the rest of the fleet.
Up to four vintage buses were among those destroyed, along with a range of coaches and double-deckers.
Last year, the Dualway Group was awarded the Optimus Mark of Excellence by Failte Ireland.